Medicine can explore what a body does, but art explores how it feels to be in one. How does poetry help organize the confusion of embodiment? How does
Medicine can explore what a body does, but art explores how it feels to be in one. How does poetry help organize the confusion of embodiment? How does our relationship to our bodies change when we begin to write about them? When we feel that our bodies are failing us, how can poetry acknowledge—or even repair—that distrust?
Moderated by Brandon Wint, Guest Editor for Arc Poetry Magazine, Fall 2021.
Therese Estacion survived a rare infection that nearly killed her, but not without losing both her legs below the knees, several fingers, and reproductive organs. Phantompains is a visceral, imaginative collection exploring disability, grief and life by interweaving stark memories with magic surrealism.
Taking inspiration from Filipino horror and folk tales, Estacion incorporates some Visayan language into her work, telling stories of mermen, gnomes and ogres that haunt childhood stories of the Philippines and, then, imaginings in her hospital room, where she spent months after her operations, recovering.
There is a dreamlike quality to these pieces, rivaled by depictions of pain, of amputation, of hysterectomy, of disability, and the realization of catastrophic change.
nedi nezu (Good Medicine) Arsenal Pulp Press
nedi nezu (Good Medicine) explores the beautiful space that being a sensual Indigenous woman creates – not only as a partner, a fantasy, a heartbreak waiting to happen but also as an auntie, a role model, a voice that connects to others walking the same path. From the online hookup world of DMs, double taps, and secret texts to earth-shakingly erotic encounters under the northern stars to the ever-complicated relationship Indigenous women have with mainstream society, this poetry collection doesn’t shy away from depicting the gorgeous diversity in decolonized desire. Instead, Campbell creates the most intimate of spaces, where the tea is hot and a seat is waiting, surrounded by the tantalizing laughter of aunties telling stories.
rump + flank NeWest Press
Carol Harvey Steski’s tenacious and unapologetic debut, rump + flank, explores the body in nature’s many incarnations: human, animal, plant, microbe, even chemical. The result is a fantastical poetic work that sheds light on what bodies—especially female ones—endure, probing the full range of experiences from pleasure and hope to deep loss and trauma.
These poems are piercingly humorous, sexy, and peppered with startling absurdities, but are grounded by an undercurrent of nostalgia (and a soupçon of feminist rage): mercury reproduces like funhouse mirrors, oysters are whole notes dropped into eternal song, cancer is a surly character taking and discarding lovers, a domestic chore turns dark as a mother channels her inner Lady Macbeth. Lush imagery melds with organic rhythms to spawn a visceral experience, a tendon-and-muscle-driven engine that readers can feel racing within their own bodies.